Productivity mixed in transport and logistics says PwC


PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) believes a return to reasonable productivity growth in transport, postal and warehousing may be due to the sector’s loss of skilled labour to mining. “You’re probably achieving the same outcome with fewer hours worked,” economist and PwC Partner Jeremy Thorpe says.

By Rob McKay | March 14, 2012

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) believes a return to reasonable productivity growth in transport, postal and warehousing may be due to the sector’s loss of skilled labour to mining.

Though it lacks incontrovertible proof, the accountancy says it has seen something similar in the Western Australian retail sector, with that state showing the highest uptake of self-service check-outs, online shopping and home-delivery as it loses retail personnel to the resources sector.

"You’re probably achieving the same outcome with fewer hours worked," economist and PwC Partner Jeremy Thorpe says..

"One of the responses when you lose staff is that you’ve just got to do it and do it smarter."

PwC's latest Productivity Scorecard analysis shows the transport, postal and warehousing sector displaying gradual improvement in the December quarter with a national rise of 2.7 percent compared with the previous December quarter.

This was the fifth highest sector, having been edged out of fourth spot by Finance and Insurance Services at 2.8 percent, against and overall rise of 1.1 percent for the country.

Interestingly, there has been something of a bounce back in the previously suffering states of NSW and Victoria.

NSW productivity was up 7.9 percent and Victoria rose 7.2 percent. However, the figures obscured a pretty ordinary performance, especially by Victoria, where productivity had fallen 9.4 percent in the previous year and fallen 8.7 percent in the past five years.

"If you look quarter to quarter, I think it is fair to say NSW and Victoria have been steady but underwhelming but what we’ve [also] seen . . . is more variability in the other states," Thorpe says, mentioning seasonal factors, such as cyclones and floods in Queensland and bumper harvests in Western Australian.

Puzzlingly, underemployment in the transport, postal and warehousing sector was mid-range at 5.7 percent.

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